Hello everyone!

In this brief basic tutorial on Substance Painter 2019 we will see how to change the background image of the virtual universe (also observing how the different images influence the preview of the material) and how to change the direction of illumination, deriving precisely from such images, within the scene; among other things, we will also see how to import a Texture - and, in general, an external resource - into a project, with the possibility of making it become a "standard" resource of our Shelf, that is also present in other Substance sessions.

In the tutorial I make use of a 3D model (which I will equip with metallic material; the reason why it will become very clear in a very short time) and an HDR background image; below you find the link to the ZIP package containing both the FBX file of the model, to be imported in a new Substance project, and the image file, in HDR format;

https://gumroad.com/l/eng_Dec_Anem

however - as is the case with the other tutorials on Substance Painter - it is NOT necessary to procure this resource: you can follow the tutorial and learn without recreating what you see here with this particular model!

Well, given these premises, let's start!


LET'S PROVIDE AN APPROPRIATE MATERIAL TO THE OBJECT

I created a new Substance project by setting the Template "PBR - Metallic Roughness (allegorithmic)" and the model I chose to use, leaving the other settings as default.

 

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The model is actually composed of two objects, each with its own Material, as we can see by looking at the Texture Set List, where we find "base" and "moving_part".

 

First of all, in both Materials I remove the present Layer by default, selecting it and clicking on the trash icon in “Layers”, then I add a Fill Layer for the “base” material, by clicking on the icon “Add a Fill Layer ".

 

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I set the Fill Layer in this way, in its Properties - Fill tab: pure white color, Roughness to 0 and Metallic to 1.0.

 

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It is therefore a completely reflective Material, a perfect mirror, as can be seen by examining it in Material mode in the 3D window; I decided to set up such a material because it obviously allows us to better appreciate the effects of the background image of the virtual universe.

 

With this Fill Layer selected in Layers, I press CTRL + C to copy it, then I select the Texture Set "moving_part" and, with the mouse in "Layers", I press the key combination CTRL + V, to paste the same Layer also in this material.


 

THE DISPLAY SETTINGS TAB

The object reflects, as we have seen, the background image ... but what is this image? How can we change it, how can we change its orientation (to see the different shading effects on the surfaces of the object) and how can we visualize it in the background of the 3D view?

 

The answers to these questions can be found in the Display Settings tab, which you can activate (if it is not already available) from the Window - Views - Display Settings menu.

 

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HOW TO MAKE THE BACKGROUND IMAGE VISIBLE

First, we increase the value of the "Environment Opacity" parameter, so as to display the background image.

 

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We can see that the image will appear blurred: this is a default setting for Substance Painter, applied to prevent the image from distracting us too much from the object to be textured; you can make the background more or less blurred by acting on the "Environment Blur" parameter.

 

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HOW TO CHANGE THE ORIENTATION OF THE BACKGROUND IMAGE

To change the orientation of the background image (keeping the object still, so as to evaluate various lighting effects on a point on the surface), you can change the "Environment Rotation" parameter, however I strongly advise you to learn the default shortcut of Substance, or SHIFT + right mouse click and drag, with the mouse in the 3D view of course, so that you can rotate the background on the fly while working without having to open the Display Settings tab for this reason.

 

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HOW TO CHANGE THE BACKGROUND IMAGE

We can change the background image, used as a lighting source for the scene, by clicking on the button next to the word "Environment Map".

 

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Substance Painter provides some images, such as HDR (both in HDR or EXR format), ie images with a wide dynamic range.

 

My advice is to use a "neutral" image, that is with a good brightness and not too "tack" towards a color or a shade, so as not to color your models for a specific lighting, but in a generic way.

 

As an example, when I want to use an image with various shades of color, I generally use "Glazed Patio" (supplied as standard with Substance), but I DO NOT display it, in the virtual background (bringing Environment Opacity to 0.0), so as to concentrate on the object, without possible distractions.

 

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HOW TO IMPORT IMAGES (AND, IN GENERAL, RESOURCES) IN SUBSTANCE

When I want to use an image without colors, which simulates photographic set lighting, I make use of an HDR image that I personally created and which is found in the ZIP package mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial; let's see how to load a custom background image into a Substance project - and, in general, how to load external resources, such as Textures, Alpha opacity maps and more.

 

Let's open the File menu and click on "Import resources" (import resources, in fact).

 

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In the window that appears, click on the "Add Resources" button, then choose from disk the file (or files, in case of multiple selection) that we want to import; in my case, this is the HDR file I want to use.

 

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The file will be listed in the "Import Resources" window and we note that, next to it, there is a box with the word "undefined"; we click on this box and choose, from the menu that appears on the screen, the item that best identifies the resource we want to import: "environment", not "texture", because the resource must be used as an illuminating texture for the environment, not to be applied to a Material!

 

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Now let's click on the menu next to "Import your resources to:", at the bottom of the window, to choose how to import the resource, ie:

  • for the current session only, so we will NOT find it in the program later, even if the project is saved;
  • for the current project only (which of course you will have to save on disk!); in this way, the resource will be inserted into the project file, which will therefore increase in size, it is true, but at least you will have the possibility to recover the resource also in the future;
  • in a "permanent" way in the program Shelf: Substance will then make a copy of the resource in its work folder and make it available also for the next program starts, regardless of the project in use.

 

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I do not recommend, in general, to use the first option ("current session"): it's better to save resources at least with the project, for the future!

 

The "project" option is intuitively suitable for the specific resources of a project, such as a mask or a particular Texture, while it is not suitable for generic resources, which we could routinely use in various projects, for which instead it has more sense to use the "shelf" option.

 

Regarding this particular case, we choose "shelf", in order to find this resource at any next start of Substance, regardless of the project, as it is not a specific resource of a project (such as a logo or a mask of particular opacity for an object), but of a generic resource that we intend to use on several occasions.

 

Finally we import the resource by clicking on Import.

 

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Based on the type of resource specified in "Import resources", the object will be inserted by Substance in a special folder in the Shelf tab (and in fact we find our HDR image among others, in Environments).

 

To use the image as the background of the scene, click on "Environment Map" in "Display Settings" and choose the image from the list.

 

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Well, for this short but useful (I hope!) tutorial, that's it!

See you soon!

 

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